Polynesian Astronomy


Throughout human history all cultures including have observed celestial objects in the sky above. Polynesians are included among the people of the Pacific Islands and historic cultures who observed and utilized astronomy.

Included in the practical application of astronomy for the Polynesians was Polynesian navigation or wayfinding.

This is a comparative table to quickly view similarities, differences and cognate relationships between words in Polynesian languages used to identify celestial objects in Polynesian astronomy.

Learn more words with our Sāmoan and Polynesian Dictionary >>


Title Sāmoan Word Hawaiʻian Word Tahitian Word Māori Word Anuta Word Tongan Word Category Constellation Right Ascension Declination Apparent magnitude
Aldebaran Kapuahi Taʻirioaitu Star Taurus 04h 35m 55.23907s +16° 30′ 33.4885″ 0.86
Alpha Andromedae Manōkalanipō Star Andromeda 00h 08m 23.25988s '+29° 05′ 25.5520″
Alpha Centauri Kamailemua Star System Centaurus 14h 39m 35.06311s –60° 50′ 15.0992″
Altair Humu Te Aamonga Star Aquila 19h 50m 46.99855s '+08° 52′ 05.9563″ 0.76
Antares Lehuakona Anā mua Rehua Na kau Star Scorpius 16h 29m 24.45970s −26° 25′ 55.2094″ 0.6–1.6
Arcturus Hōkūleʻa Anā Tahuʻa Taʻata Metua te tupu mavae Toki Star Bootes 14h 15m 39.7s +19° 10′ 56″ −0.05
Aries Kaʻavei Constellation Aries 03h 29m 42.4003s 10.3632069°
Auriga Hōkūlei Constellation Auriga 04h 37m 54.4293s 56.1648331°
Beta Centauri Kamailehope Star System Centaurus 14h 03m 49.40535s –60° 22′ 22.9266″
Beta Pegasi Kākuhihewa Star Pegasus 23h 03m 46.45746s +28° 04′ 58.0336″ 2.42
Betelguese Kauluakoko Star 05h 55m 10.30536s +07° 24′ 25.4304″ +0.50
Boötes Hōkūʻiwa Constellation 13h 36.1m to 15h 49.3m +7.36° to +55.1°
Canis Minor 07h 06.4m to 08h 11.4m 13.22° to −0.36° 0.34
Canopus Keali‘iokonaikalewa Star Carina 06h 23m 57.10988s −52° 41′ 44.3810″ −0.74
Capella Star 05h 16m 41.35871s +45° 59′ 52.7693″ 13.7
Cassiopeia ‘Iwakeli‘i Constellation Cassiopeia 22h 57m 04.5897s–03h 41m 14.0997s 77.6923447°–48.6632690°
Castor and Pollux Nāmāhoe Star Gemini 7h +20°
Cetus Koholā Constellation 00h 26m 22.2486s–03h 23m 47.1487s 10.5143948°–−24.8725095°
Comet Le pusa loa Small Solar System body
Corvus Meʻe Constellation Corvus 12h −20°
Crux (Southern Cross) Sumu Hānaiakamalama Tau hā Te Punga Te raku tapu, Te Kupenga Toloa Constellation Southern Cross 12.5h −60°
Deneb Piraʻetea Star Cygnus 20h 41m 25.9s +45° 16′ 49″ 1.25
Fomalhaut Kūkaniloko Star Piscis Austrinus 22h 57m 39.0465s −29° 37′ 20.050″ 1.16
Gamma Crucis Kaulia Star Crux 12h 31m 09.95961s −57° 06′ 47.5684″ +1.64
Gamma Pegasi Piʻilani 00h 13m 14.15123s +15° 11′ 00.9368″
Gemini Nāmāhoe Constellation Gemini 7h +20°
Jupiter Tupualegase Ikaika Taʻurua nui Pareārau Planet −2.94 to −1.66
Lunar Eclipse Ua gase toto le māsina
Magellan clouds Ao tea Pelulehua kea Maʻafu Galaxy
Markab Keawe
Mars Matamemea Hōkūʻula Maunu ʻura Matawhero Planet −2.94 to +1.86
Mercury Taʻero Takero
Meteoroid (Shooting Star) Fetū Afi Hōkūlele Meteoroid
Milkyway ʻAniva Hōkū noho aupuni Vai ora a Tane Galaxy
Moon Māsina Māhina ʻĀvaʻe Marama Māhina Astronomical Object −2.5 to −12.9
Neptune Tangaroa
Orion Kaheiheionākeiki Te Kakau Constellation Orion 5h +5°
Orion's Belt Amoga Maiakū Taʻurua o Mere ma tū tahi Tautoru Ara tolu ʻAlotolu Asterism Orion 05h 36m 12.8s −01° 12′ 06.9″
Pegasus Kalupeakawelo Constellation
Pleiades (Messier 45) Mataaliʻi (also Mataliʻi, Liʻi) Makaliʻi Matariʻi Matariki Matariki Star Cluster Taurus 3h 47m 24s +24° 07′ 00″
Polaris Hōkūpaʻa Anā niʻa Star Ursa Minor 02h 31m 49.09s +89° 15′ 50.8″ 8.7
Procyon Puana 07h 39m 18.11950s +05° 13′ 29.9552″
Regulus ikiiki Star Leo 10h 08m 22.311s +11° 58′ 01.95″ 1.40
Rigel Puanakau Puanga Star Orion 05h 14m 32.27210s −08° 12′ 05.8981″ 6.67
Saturn Fetū tea Makulu Rongo (also Pareārau) Planet
Scorpius Toloa Ka makau nui o Māui Taro Constellation Scorpius 16.8875h −30.7367°
Sirius Telegese ʻAʻā Te Kokota Tino a manu Star System Canis Major 06h 45m 08.91728s −16° 42′ 58.02″
Solar Eclipse Na gase eleele le lā
Spica Hikianalia Star Virgo +0.97
Star Fetū Hōkū Fetiʻa Whetū Fetuʻu
Sun Laʻā Star
Uranus Rakipō
Ursa Major Anava Nāhiku Nā Hiku Constellation Ursa Major 10.67h +55.38°
Vega Keoe Whanui Star Lyra 18h 36m 56.33635s +38° 47′ 01.2802″ +0.026
Venus Tapuitea Hōkūloa Taʻurua Kōpū Planet −4.92 to −2.98


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Sāmoan and Polynesian Dictionary >>

Sāmoan and Polynesian Astronomy >>

Polynesian Historical Timeline >>

Location names of Polynesia >>

Sāmoan and Polynesian Words for Animals >>

Sāmoan and Polynesian Words for Plants >>